The whole creation groaneth and travaileth - If it be inquired how the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain; let them who explain this of the fabric of the material world, tell us how that groans and travails? They must needs own it to be a borrowed and allusive phrase: but in the sense above given, the very literal construction may be admitted.
For we know - The sentiment of this verse is designed as an illustration of what had just been said.
That the whole creation - Margin, “every creature.” This expression has been commonly understood as meaning the same as “the creature” in Romans 8:20-21. But I understand it as having a different signification; and as being used in the natural and usual signification of the word “creature,” or “creation.” It refers, as I suppose, to the whole animate creation; to all living beings; to the state of all created things here, as in a condition of pain and disorder, and groaning and death. Everything which we see; every creature which lives, is thus subjected to a state of servitude, pain, vanity, and death. The reasons for supposing that this is the true interpretation, are,
(1)That the apostle expressly speaks of “the whole creation, of every creature, qualifying the phrase by the expression “we know,” as if he was drawing an illustration from a well-understood, universal fact.
(2)this interpretation makes consistent sense, and makes the verse have a direct bearing on the argument. “It is just an argument from analogy.”
He had Romans 8:20-21 said that the condition of a Christian was one of bondage and servitude. It was an imperfect, humiliating state; one attended with pain, sorrow, and death. This might be regarded as a melancholy description, and the question might arise, why was not the Christian at once delivered from this? The answer is in this verse. “It is just the condition of everything.” It is the manifest principle on which God governs the world. The whole creation is in just this condition; and we are not to be surprised, therefore, if it is the condition of the believer. It is a part of the universal system of things; it accords with everything we see; and we are not to be surprised that the church exists on the same principle of administration; in a state of bondage, imperfection, sorrow, and sighing for deliverance.
Groaneth - Greek, Groans together. All is united in a condition of sorrow. The expression denotes mutual and universal grief. It is one wide and loud lamentation, in which a dying world unites; and in which it has united “until now.”
And travaileth in pain together - This expression properly denotes the extreme pain of parturition. It also denotes any intense agony, or extreme suffering; and it means here that the condition of all things has been that of intense, united, and continued suffering; in other words, that we are in a world of misery and death. This has been united; all have partaken of it: it has been intense; all endure much: it has been unremitted; every age has experienced the repetition of the same thing.
Until now - Until the time when the apostle wrote. It is equally true of the time since he wrote. It has been the characteristic of every age. It is remarkable that the apostle does not here say of “the whole creation,” that it had any hope of deliverance; an additional consideration that shows that the interpretation above suggested is correct, Romans 8:20-21, Romans 8:23. Of the sighing and suffering universe, he says nothing with respect to its future state. He does not say that the suffering brutal creation shall be compensated, or shall be restored or raised up. He simply adverts to the fact that it suffers, as an illustration that the condition of the Christian is not singular and special. The Scriptures say nothing of the future condition of the brutal creation.
Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him. When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God,—subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death,—it is said that “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” “In all their affliction He was afflicted: ... and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Judges 10:16; Isaiah 63:9. Ed 263.1
His Spirit “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” As the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:26, 22), the heart of the infinite Father is pained in sympathy. Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. Ed 263.2Read in context »
Connected With Sphere of Glory—Though earth was struck off from the continent of heaven [Obviously the word “continent” is here employed in a broader sense than is commonly understood today. It is in keeping with usage now obsolete, which permitted the word “continent” to apply to “the ‘solid globe’ or orb of the sun or moon” (See Oxford English Dictionary).—Editor.] and alienated from its communion, Jesus has connected it again with the sphere of glory (The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1887). 1BC 1085.1
Instantaneous Substitution—The instant man accepted the temptations of Satan, and did the very things God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying, “Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in man's place. He shall have another chance” (Letter 22, February 13, 1900). 1BC 1085.2
Christ Placed Feet in Adam's Steps—What love! What amazing condescension! The King of glory proposed to humble Himself to fallen humanity! He would place His feet in Adam's steps. He would take man's fallen nature, and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing He would open the way for the redemption from the disgrace of Adam's failure and fall, of all those who would believe on Him (The Review and Herald, February 24, 1874). 1BC 1085.3Read in context »
Adam and Eve persuaded themselves that in so small a matter as eating of the forbidden fruit there could not result such terrible consequences as God had declared. But this small matter was the transgression of God's immutable and holy law, and it separated man from God and opened the floodgates of death and untold woe upon our world. Age after age there has gone up from our earth a continual cry of mourning, and the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain as a consequence of man's disobedience. Heaven itself has felt the effects of his rebellion against God. Calvary stands as a memorial of the amazing sacrifice required to atone for the transgression of the divine law. Let us not regard sin as a trivial thing. SC 33.1
Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ, is reacting upon yourself; it is hardening the heart, depraving the will, benumbing the understanding, and not only making you less inclined to yield, but less capable of yielding, to the tender pleading of God's Holy Spirit. SC 33.2
Many are quieting a troubled conscience with the thought that they can change a course of evil when they choose; that they can trifle with the invitations of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed. They think that after doing despite to the Spirit of grace, after casting their influence on the side of Satan, in a moment of terrible extremity they can change their course. But this is not so easily done. The experience, the education, of a lifetime, has so thoroughly molded the character that few then desire to receive the image of Jesus. SC 33.3Read in context »
The people of Israel praised God at the Feast of Tabernacles, as they called to mind His mercy in their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and His tender care for them during their pilgrim life in the wilderness. They rejoiced also in the consciousness of pardon and acceptance, through the service of the day of atonement, just ended. But when the ransomed of the Lord shall have been safely gathered into the heavenly Canaan, forever delivered from the bondage of the curse, under which “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22), they will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Christ's great work of atonement for men will then have been completed, and their sins will have been forever blotted out. PP 542.1Read in context »